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68                                      kI3?E   OF
21st May, 1800, three miles below the station Esiruv
ralda. This bifurcation of the mighty waters ho calls
magnificent, and his travelling hardships were no
more thought of in front of the granite rocks, 7800
feet high, where the two rivers separate. Such an
imposing sight rewarded their perseverance, and espe-
cially enriched science ; for hero ITumboldt collected
the great materials and instructive explanations of a
comparative hydrography, and the history of his dis-
coveries in general enriched the history of geography*
with many important contribtttioiis. Hero iu this
district he explained the physical relations of the soil,
collected the similar phenomena of the old, and this
centre American soil, and gave science an important
insight into the analogy of natural formations, and
the raling laws of the globe in reference to its veins
of water.
In the missionary station of Esmoralda, Humbolxlt
became acquainted with the notorious poison, called
c* curare/' which is prepared here, and used in war, on
the chase?, and, strangely enough, as an internal re-
medy for abdominal complaints, and which, with the
Ticunas poison of the Amazon stream, and the Upas
poison of Java, is the most deadly of known poison 8.
The Indians prepare this poison from the fruit of the
similarly-named plant, which they collect with certain
solemn festivities, as the vine harvest with, us, and
from which one man, ctillecl the " poison-man,*M pro-
pares the   murderous matter.     This   matter was   a
new interesting subject for experiments for Humboldt,
from, which it resulted that the poison directly mixed
with the blood by means of a wound, kills, while, taken
inwardly, it is an. excellent tonic.    The preparer of the
poison incautiously and unknowingly rubbed a littlo
of the stuff in Humboldt's presence with his womxclod
finger, and fell stunned to the ground ; but his life
was   saved  by rubbing  him  with   muriate  of soda.
EDumboldt  had  also nearly fallen a  victim   to thin
poison, as it had run into his linen out of a badly-
secured bottle, and he fortunately perceived some of